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Origins/lyrics: Hey Zhankoye

DREMLEN FEYGL (Drowsing Birds)

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M. Kravitz 17 Nov 98 - 04:37 PM
BSeed 17 Nov 98 - 11:37 PM
M. Kravitz 25 Nov 98 - 03:15 PM
Wally Macnow 25 Nov 98 - 04:14 PM
Pete Peterson 25 Nov 98 - 05:31 PM
Wilfried Schaum 27 May 05 - 07:35 AM
GUEST,Paul Burke 27 May 05 - 10:29 AM
Jack Campin 05 Apr 09 - 07:33 PM
Joe_F 05 Apr 09 - 07:47 PM
Jack Campin 05 Apr 09 - 08:22 PM
Joe Offer 06 Apr 09 - 01:48 AM
Jack Campin 06 Apr 09 - 06:31 AM
GUEST,Allan S 06 Apr 09 - 11:06 AM
Jack Campin 06 Apr 09 - 02:11 PM
Jack Campin 06 Apr 09 - 08:59 PM
Joe Offer 07 Apr 09 - 01:25 AM
Joe Offer 07 Apr 09 - 02:41 AM
Joe Offer 07 Apr 09 - 03:03 AM
GUEST 20 Mar 14 - 07:03 PM
Jack Campin 20 Mar 14 - 08:56 PM
Jack Campin 20 Mar 14 - 09:12 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 21 Mar 14 - 08:56 PM
Abby Sale 19 Aug 15 - 10:46 AM
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Subject: Hey Zhankoye
From: M. Kravitz
Date: 17 Nov 98 - 04:37 PM

Am looking for a recording by Pete Seeger/Almanac Singers of Hey Zhankoye, sung in English and Yiddish. Anyone know where I can find one? If so, please e-mail at:


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Subject: Lyr/Chords Add: HEY, ZHANKOYE! (from Pete Seeger)
From: BSeed
Date: 17 Nov 98 - 11:37 PM

I used to have a Limelighters recording of the song with two verses in Yiddish, two in English, and I just found in Oak Puplications' The People's Song Book Pete Seeger's version (I had started to try to post it from memory). Here are the verses, alternating the original Yiddish and Seeger's English translations:


Az men fort kine Sevastopol
Iz nit veit fun Simfereopol
Dortn iz a stantziye faran
Ver darf zuchen niye glikken
S'iz a stantziye an antikel
In Zhankoye, Dzahn, dzahn, dzahn

Hey Zhan, Hey Zhankoye,
Hey Zhanvili, hey Zhankoye,
Hey Zhankoye, dzahn, dzahn, dzahn

When you go from Sevastopol
On the way to Simferopol,
Just you go a little farther down.
There's a little railroad depot
Known quite well by all the people,
Called Zhankoye, Dzahn, dzahn, dzahn.
Hey Zhan...

Enfert Yidden of mine Kashe
Vi'z mine brider, vi'z Abrashe
S'gayt ba im der traktor vi a bahn.
Di mime Laye ba der kosilke
Bayle ba der molotilke
In Zhankoye, dzahn, dzahn, dzahn...

Now if you look for paradise
You'll see it there before your eyes.
Stop your search and go no farther on.
There we have a collective farm
All run by husky Jewish arms
At Zhankoye, dzahn, dzahn, dzahn.

Ver zogt as Yidden kenen nor handlen,
Essen fette yoich mit mandlen
Nor nit zine kine arbetsman?
Doss kenen zogen nor di sonim
Yidden, shpite zay on in ponim!
Tit a kik of dzahn, dzahn, dzahn...

Aunt Natasha drives the tractor
Grandma runs the cream extractor
While we work we all can sing our songs.
Who says that Jews cannot be farmers?
Spit in his eye, who would so harm us.
Tell him of Zhankoye, dzahn, dzahn.

One other verse, by Edith Allaire:

Work together, all as brothers,
Jew and Gentile, White and Negro,
For that better world to come.
All must work, for work is good,
In work may man find brotherhood,
As in Zhankoye, dzahn, dzahn, dzahn...

Source: The People's Song Book (Waldemar Hille, 1948, page 46)

A note on my harmonic entry style: Chords in parentheses: (Em) or slashes: / indicate measures. Chords in brackets occur within measures, at the third beat. Periods indicate quarter note pauses.

The song is in 4/4 time, rather percussive, one quarter note per syllable, except for the dzhans and the Hey Zhans which are half notes.


(Em)Az men fort kine /Se-vas-to-pol
(A)Iz nit [Am]veit fun (Em)Sim-fere-o-pol
(Am)Dor-in [Em]iz a (Am)stan-tzi-ye fa- ran
(Em)Ver darf zu-chen /ni-ye glik-ken
(A)S'iz a [Am]Stan-tziye (Em)an an-ti-kel
(Am)In Zhan-[Em]ko-ye,) (Am)Dzahn, [B7]dzahn, (Am)dzahn . . / . . . .
(Am)Hey Zhan, (D7)Hey Zhan-ko-ye,
(Em)Hey Zhan-vi-li, (Bm)hey Zhan-ko-ye,
(Em)Hey Zhan-ko-ye, (Am)dzahn, [B7]dzahn, (Em)dzahn[C] . . (D) . . [Bm] . .

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Subject: RE: Hey Zhankoye
From: M. Kravitz
Date: 25 Nov 98 - 03:15 PM

Thanks to everyone for their help with lyrics to Hey Zhankoye. Still looking for an actual recording by Pete Seeger or the Almanac Singers. Anyone with any ideas where one might be found? Thanks for all of your help.

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Subject: RE: Hey Zhankoye
From: Wally Macnow
Date: 25 Nov 98 - 04:14 PM

Pete Seeger didn't record it with The Almanac Singers. He recorded it with The Berries (Sharon Hollander, Lee Cahan, and Irene Vale)in October 1947 for Charter Records.

It is included in the 10 CD set "Songs For Political Action" which, by the way, also has the complete recordings of The Almanac Singers.

I carry it at

Wally Macnow

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Subject: RE: Hey Zhankoye
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 25 Nov 98 - 05:31 PM

Wally-- does the COMPLETE recordings of the Almanac Singers include the "suppressed" album? I have sung sets with anti-war songs from most US wars and Ballad of October 16 is the only antiwar song I know from WWII. Anyway-- I would be interested in purchasing same if affordable. (if you want to reply directly I am THanks in advance-- Pete

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Subject: RE: Hey Zhankoye
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 27 May 05 - 07:35 AM

Look at Ruth Rubin's Treasury of Jewish Folk Song for the lyrics

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Subject: RE: Hey Zhankoye
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 27 May 05 - 10:29 AM

There's also a version by Burning Bush*- Lucy Skeaping, Merlin Shepherd etc. - really well done.

*aka The Shtetl Waits

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Subject: RE: Hey Zhankoye
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 07:33 PM

Does anybody know what really happened in the background to this song? Rubin places it in the 1930s.

The placename is Turkish - "soul/life village". Much of the Crimea was Turkish until WW2, during which virtually the whole Turkish population was deported on Stalin's orders to Central Asia with heavy loss of life (very few have ever returned, and those that did are living in slum conditions with no prospect of getting any of the land or housing that the Ukrainians have taken over since).

So it looks likely that this Jewish commune was established by Stalin after booting the original occupants out. But I wasn't aware of the deportations starting that early (though such an enormous event must have had antecedents). And there are so few sources on Crimean history in English that it's hard to make any sense of this period - the easily accessible books are written by hard-core CIA ideologues.

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Subject: RE: Hey Zhankoye
From: Joe_F
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 07:47 PM

In Pete Seeger's collection _The Bells of Rhymney_ (Oak, 1964), the name is spelled Djankoye, and there is a photograph of the place with a sign spelling it Djankoy (also in Cyrillic letters, Dzhankoi). So the initial consonant should be pronounced like the English J. It is not clear why many people leave off the D -- perhaps to make it sound more foreign. As to the extra syllable at the end, perhaps that is the way it was in Yiddish.

Seeger gives a different etymology: "comes from two Tatar words, meaning 'Heart of Sheep'."

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Subject: RE: Hey Zhankoye
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 08:22 PM

Seeger is just wrong. "Sheep" is "koyun", "heart" is "kalb" and so "heart of sheep" would be "koyunkalbi". Pretty unlikely as a placename.

In modern Turkish the spelling would be Canköy. The C is pronounced like English J. The second syllable is a diphthong (reflected in the Russian/Ukrainian/Yiddish spelling). For these two words there is very little variation in Turkic languages, and you find them in placenames as far away as the shores of the Arctic Ocean.

"Can" has a wide range of meanings - "Coke adds life" was translated into Turkish as "Coca-cola can kanar", which could equally well mean "Coke enlarges the soul". "Darling" is perhaps the most-used meaning for the word, though not semantically central. I suppose "darling village" might be a possible interpretation, like "dear green place" for "Glasgow".

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Subject: RE: Hey Zhankoye
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 01:48 AM

Do you really think it's Turkish, Jack? In Polish, the word for "thank you" is "Dziekuje" - which is pronounced almost exactly like "Zhankoye."* I would imagine other Slavic languages have a similar term for "thank you."
So, I figured "Zhankoye" had something to do with giving thanks.


*Well, the Polish is "jen-KOY-uh."

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Subject: RE: Hey Zhankoye
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 06:31 AM

Surely it's more likely that the village's name would include the word for "village" in a language spoken by a large proportion of the population.

I have a map I got off the web a few years ago showing the Tatar placenames of the Crimea transliterated into modern Turkish spelling (no idea now where I got it; I was trying to get an idea of Crimean geography as it was around 1500 AD). There are dozens of "-köy"s all over it, as you'd expect in any area settled by people speaking a Turkic language. There is a large "Canköy" on a major crossroads in the north; the same place is"Dzhankoy" in my 1962 Bartholomew atlas. It's the most important crossroads in the entire Crimea, for linking to the Ukraine - the sort of place you'd want to get control of in advance if you were planning a mass deportation programme.

So my guess is that Stalin quietly disposed of the local Tatar population somehow and replaced them with Jewish settlers from cities like Kiev and Odessa (the song seems to imply that the settlers were of urban origin), anticipating that they'd help out or at least not interfere when it was time for the deportation trains to roll through. In the event things didn't pan out quite as either Hitler or Stalin expected - there is a bit about the Nazi occupation of the Crimea in Neal Ascherson's book "Black Sea". The Nazi in charge of the campaign had done his racial homework and concluded that the Karaite Jews of the Crimea were completely unrelated to those of Eastern Europe and no threat to the purity of the Aryan race, so there was no need to do anything about them. He eventually got orders from above to annihilate them anyway, but it took a while. Stalin ended up accusing the Tatars of collaboration with the Nazis as a pretext for the deportation, but it looks like the most he could truthfully have accused them of was prudently keeping their heads down - there were no local Nazi-collaborator military units like those in the Baltic or the Balkans.

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Subject: RE: Hey Zhankoye
From: GUEST,Allan S
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 11:06 AM

From what I understand the settlement was destroyed/leveled in WW2
not rebuilt any Jews who survived the camps probably left.
That last verse not from the origional song. typical of Peoples Songs etc.

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Subject: RE: Hey Zhankoye
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 02:11 PM

Rubin reports the place was destroyed. Being right on the Nazis' invasion route, you would hardly expect anything different.

I doubt many Jews from there were even lucky enough to be sent to a camp. Nazi SOP in the occupied Ukraine was mass executions on the spot.

Seeger's version only has the first version in common with Rubin's. Rubin's sounds a lot more plausible as something from the 1930s. As Allan S says, that last verse is obviously about the US and no way could it have been written in the Crimea (if you were going to make an all-men-are-brothers statement then and there, you'd start by naming the ethnicities immediately around you, like Turks, Ukrainians, Russians, Greeks, Gypsies and Circassians - Negroes would not be a group it was much of a challenge to express solidarity with).

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Subject: RE: Hey Zhankoye
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 08:59 PM

The Wikipedia entry for the place gves a slightly different etymology from what I thought, though still a Turkic one: Dzhankoy. That northern Tatar word for "new" (which I don't know how to encode in HTML) must be a cognate of standard Turkish "yeni".

The Wikipedia entry has rather few historical facts, but says Canköy/Dzhankoy got city status in 1926. This article dates that as one of the last acts of the autonomous Crimean Soviet government before Stalin clamped down on it.

This gives a concise description of the final deportation: Otto Pohl's blog.

It is just not believable that the Jewish settlers of around 1930 were reclaiming vacant land. The whole of the Crimea has been settled by agriculturists for thousands of years. Somebody had to have been displaced first before the people in the song could start farming.

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Subject: RE: Hey Zhankoye
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 01:25 AM

Well, I think your interpretation has more credibility than my Slavic guess, Jack. The People's Song Book (1948) says the song was composed in Soviet Crimea, "within the past twenty years" (prior to 1948. "Zhankoye is the railroad station which centralized a whole network of Jewish collective farms in the area."


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Subject: ADD Version: Hey Zhankoye
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 02:41 AM

Pete Seeger visited Dzankoy in the Crimea in 1964, and asked about this song, which he had learned some thirty years before. He devotes some ten pages of The Incompleat Folksinger (1972) to his experiences there. Here is his transliteration of the song, along with his literal translation:

Az men fort kayn Sevastopol,
Iz nit vayt fun Simferopol,
Dortn iz a stantsiye faran.
Ver darf zuchn naye glikn?
S'iz a stantsiye an antikl,
In Dzhankoye, Dzhan, Dzhan, Dzhan.

Hey Dzhan, hey Dzhankoye,
Hey Dzhanvili, hey Dzhankoye,
Hey Dzhankoye, Dzhan, Dzhan, Dzhan.

Entfert Yidn oyf mayn kashe,
Vu'z mayn bruder, vu'z Abrasha?
S'geyt bay im der trakter vi a ban.
Di mume Leye bay der kosilke,
Beyle bay der molotilke,
In Dzhankoye, Dzhan, Dzhan, Dzhan.

Ver zogt az Yidn konen nor handlen,
Esn fete yoych mit mandlen,
Nor nit zayn kayn arbetsman?
Dos konen zogn nor di sonim!
Yidn! Shpayt zey on in ponim!
Tut a kuk oyf Dzhan, Dzhan, Dzhan!
As one travels to Sevastopol—
It's not far from Simferopol—
There is a railroad station:
Who wants to look for new glory?
This is a station, a beauty,
In Dzhankoy, Dzhan, Dzhan, Dzhan.

Hey Dzhan, hey Dzhankoy,
Hey Dzhan-village, hey Dzhankoy,
Hey Dzhanoky, Dzhan, Dzhan, Dzhan.

Answer my question, Jews:
Where's my brother, where's Abrasha?
His tractor is going like a locomotive.
Aunt Leye is at the butter churn,
Beyle at the thresher,
In Dzhankoy, Dzhan, Dzhan, Dzhan.

Who says Jews can only buy and sell,
Only eat fat chicken soup with soup nuts,
Just so as not to be workingmen?
This can be said only by our enemies!
Jews! Spit in their faces!
Take a look at Dzhan, Dzhan, Dzhan!

Source: The Incompleat Folksinger, Pete Seeger (1972), page 516

The song is also in Seeger's Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, page 121

Note that Seeger's "singable" translation is in the message from BSeed above. Rubin's translation may be closer to the original, but I think I prefer Seeger's "singable" version.

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Subject: ADD Version: Az Men Fort Kayn Sevastopol
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 03:03 AM

In A Treasury of Jewish Folksong, page 95, Ruth Rubin says "Az Men Fort Kayn Sevastopol" is a farm song from Jewish settlements in the Crimea of the middle 1920's. Rubin's Yiddish lyrics are the same as Seeger's, but here's her English translation:


On the way to Sevastopol,
Not too far from Simferopol,
There's a railroad station.
Why go looking high or low?
There's no finer station, no!
Than Zhankoye, zhan, zhan, zhan.

Hey zhan, hey Zhankoye, hey Zhanvili, hey Zhankoye
Hey Zhankoye, zhan, zhan, zhan.

Tell me brothers, if you can,
Where's Abrasha, where's that man?
His tractor's racing like a fan.
Aunt Leye is at the reaper.
Aunt Beyle is at the thresher,
In Zhankoye, zhan, zhan, zhan.

Who says Jews can only trade,
Eat fat soups and not create,
Nor be sturdy workingmen?
Enemies can talk like that!
Jews! Let's spit right in their eye!
Just you look at zhan, zhan, zhan.

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Subject: RE: Origins/lyrics: Hey Zhankoye
Date: 20 Mar 14 - 07:03 PM

I used to sing this song in English in the mid-1950's in Greenwich Village where all of the folk singers, guitarists, banjo players, etc. used to congregate on Sundays. It was quite a time then. I was dating a guy named Roger Sprung, a great banjo player who also played guitar, fiddle and piano. He went on to become famous in his field. All of the great folk singers of the time would be there. I'm glad to have all of the lyrics to the song since I didn't remember all of them. Thx
Sandi Schwartz

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Subject: RE: Origins/lyrics: Hey Zhankoye
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Mar 14 - 08:56 PM

I see Wikipedia has an allusion to what happened to the people who were there first:

Soviet policies on the peninsula led to widespread starvation in 1921.[citation needed] Food was confiscated for shipment to central Russia, while more than 100,000 Tatars starved to death, and tens of thousands fled to Turkey or Romania.[28] Thousands more were deported or slaughtered during the collectivization in 1928–29.[28] The government campaign led to another famine in 1931–33. No other Soviet nationality suffered the decline imposed on the Crimean Tatars; between 1917 and 1933 half the Crimean Tatar population had been killed or deported.[28]

(The rest were deported to Central Asia in the "sweeping" of 18 May 1944).

The Jewish settlers of the 1920s were Stalin's stooges in a programme of genocide. No way in hell could they not have known what they were doing.

This is one song I flatly refuse to take any part in.

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Subject: RE: Origins/lyrics: Hey Zhankoye
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Mar 14 - 09:12 PM

Meanwhile, here we go again, from the new rulers of the Crimea (link from that Wikipedia page):

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Subject: RE: Origins/lyrics: Hey Zhankoye
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 21 Mar 14 - 08:56 PM

We sang this in 1961 in the lounge of the Navy Pier campus of the University of Illinois


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Subject: RE: Origins/lyrics: Hey Zhankoye
From: Abby Sale
Date: 19 Aug 15 - 10:46 AM

FWIW, to answer the request; from Seeger's pre-blackball (I think) TV show:

This is a fine song, oversung in the Revival. It's time to bring it back for listeners, youngsters under 60 that have never heard it. (And many such songs - when's the last time you sang "Copper Kettle" or "Tell Old Bill?")

Great tune but a song of fraud imposed on a people persecuted by official State antisemitism under the tsars, then serious persecution under Stalin. Anything to rid Holy Mother Russia of Jews. With the looming of hopelessness to ever reestablish the homeland, to finally take desperate hope of a substitute homeland. A place of safety and hope for the future (deeply opposed by Jews who could only find hope in the Return.) But safety, prosperity, even vindication!

Only to find the locals outraged and world support far less than envisioned. And finally the Nazis.

A tragedy. But for the time, joy.


Hiya, folks.

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